Skip to main content

Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs

Northwestern Buffett Global Working Groups Tackle Complex Global Challenges

Northwestern Buffett continues to support Global Working Groups undertaking collaborative, interdisciplinary research that addresses complex global challenges related to one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In recent months, many of our Global Working Groups have forged ahead with developing and disseminating their work through an exciting range of initiatives. Here are a few highlights:


Antibiotic Resistance
Northwestern Buffett’s Antibiotic Resistance Global Working Group established research relationships at Aga Khan University and a partnership with Pakistan’s National Institute of Health to develop a pathogen surveillance program designed to expand capacity for antimicrobial resistance surveillance and illuminate the drivers of antibiotic over-prescription in the region. The group also received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study antimicrobial resistance patterns and develop a roadmap for coordinating responses to antimicrobial resistance across academic, political, pharmaceutical and medical institutions.


Disproportionate Impacts of Environmental Challenges
Our Disproportionate Impacts of Environmental Challenges Working Group has received numerous grants to advance its work, including a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation for collaboration with Indigenous communities in the Great Lakes to develop new methods of mitigating climate change effects, a CIVIC Strong grant for research aimed at strengthening Ojibwe community resilience; grant funds for a collaboration with the Argonne National Lab to develop environmental data sensors that can support Indigenous communities’ fight for treaty rights and sovereignty, and a McCormick Catalyst Research Award for the “From Soil to Space: Combining Novel Sensors and Satellite Imagery for Wetland Ecosystem Monitoring to Support Resilience for Tribal Communities” initiative. Members of Disproportionate Impacts group also co-authored the article “Waking from Paralysis: Revitalizing Conceptions of Climate Knowledge and Justice for More Effective Climate Action” published in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in spring 2022.


Race, Caste, and Colorism
Our Race, Caste, and Colorism Global Working Group partnered with SpaceShift Collective to launch Starlight, a community arts space and artist workshop that was open from September 14 to October 29, 2022 on Chicago's Devon Avenue. Devon Avenue is one of the most diverse streets in America and a cultural hub for Chicago's South Asian population, including the Afghan, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Nepalese and Rohingya communities. The Race, Caste and Colorism group's Starlight space featured a series of immersive events celebrating South Asian culture, from movie screenings and concerts to workshops, lectures and live demonstrations. Starlight was also host to six resident artists from Chicago who came together in discussion about the themes of Race, Caste, and Colorism and produced new works for the space based on these themes.


Trauma, Music, and the Breath
Our Trauma, Music, and the Breath Working Group is blending biomedical and behavioral research to provide a holistic understanding of how musical interventions affect the physical body. They recently collaborated with the John Rogers Biomedical Engineering Lab to test the effects of musical interventions on heart rate variability, respiration, movement, speech rate, and speech amplitude using proprietary, wearable sensors. The group is also working to implement and evaluate trauma-informed practices at an afterschool music program for children and is documenting how music teachers integrate trauma-informed educational approaches into music education.


Climate Crisis + Media Arts
The Climate Crisis + Media Arts Group supports the production of film and media art that address the climate crisis through innovative approaches and has issued a call for proposals. The group will provide one-time awards of up to $10,000 that can be applied to new projects or in-progress works in film, video, sound art, installation, or interactive media. The selection committee will evaluate proposals on artistic merit, with a preference for new approaches to the climate emergency that aid in cultural transformation(s) necessary for planetary health and sustainability. The group welcomes proposals that are collaborative in authorship, especially if those collaborations are interdisciplinary and go beyond statistics to reveal human and nonhuman experiences of the climate crisis, whether they be local or transnational, direct or oblique, sensorial or discursive. Learn more about the call for proposals and apply here by January 15, 2023.


Defusing Disasters  
The Defusing Disasters group will work this year toward creating heat vulnerability tools that function at both the community and clinical levels. The community-level tool will be used operationally by the City of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication and Department of Public Health in both emergency prevention/response and long-term mitigation contexts. The clinical tool will be used at the doctor-patient level to identify and protect at-risk individuals.  


Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Social Movements 
The AI and Social Movements Group launched this Fall and is focused on developing SMART, a Social Movement Analysis & Reasoning Tool that will serve as a real-time web portal tracking social movements from around the world. The group also plans to establish legal and ethically sound methods of disseminating information about budding social movements to journalists and policymakers. 


Language Curricula and Gender Equality 
Our Language Curricula and Gender Equality Group co-lead Rana Raddawi co-chaired the Workshop on Women in STEM in the Middle East at the Malta Conference in November 2022. She will also represent the Language Curricula and Gender Equality group at a Salzburg Global Seminar on Education, Transformation and Gender in Salzburg, Austria this month. The program “will bring together key stakeholders from around the world to develop new solutions and ways of reframing longstanding challenges about ways in which gender continues to impact education outcomes.” 


Selected by a panel of esteemed judges through Northwestern Buffett’s Idea Incubation Process, Global Working Groups receive up to two years of funding and support to conduct research aimed at addressing a global challenge and pursue active measures to mitigate its impact on citizens and communities worldwide.  Learn more about our Global Working Groups >>